Saviors of Uldum - Hearthstone’s Homage to the Land of the Titans
Thanks to current World of Warcraft datamining news, players rejoice as 8.2.5 looks to dig deeper into the happenings of the Battle of Azeroth by bringing several important lore figures such as Wrathion or Calia Menethil back to life - in one way or the other.
Saviors of Uldum, Hearthstone’s second 2019 expansion, will follow the same road: The story around Arch-Villain Rafaam and his League of E.V.I.L. enters the next chapter, and this time he has one of Azeroth’s most artifact-packed zones in his sights: Uldum. However, none less than the League of Explorers try to protect the sacred lands of the titans!
How does the continuous Year of the Dragon storyline pan out in terms of original Warcraft lore? Will we see the evolving “alternate universe” approach, similar to the Rise of Shadows? And what does the
Puzzle-Box of Yogg-Saron
have to do with it?!
I'm Tharid, a writer for Wowhead's sister site Hearthstone Top Decks, and I'll be explaining the Warcraft lore behind Hearthstone's upcoming expansion. If you just want to check the newest card reveals of Hearthstone's upcoming expansion "Saviors of Uldum", don't hesitate to head over to
Overtaking Uldum: Rafaam’s Greatest Scheme
Whoever followed the Rise of Shadows storyline knows what Rafaam is up to: As the Supreme Archaeologist, he seeks to steal the most precious of artifacts and the most valuable of historical goods to add them to his collection.
The floating city of Dalaran was his first target, and that has to be taken quite literal: the League of E.V.I.L. pilfered the city as a whole!
Thanks to Mr. Boom’s incredible rocket drive attached to Dalaran itself, Rafaam and the gang finally land in Uldum, one of Kalimdor’s most mysterious landscapes. However, Rafaam seems to know more than enough about it, and thus the League of E.V.I.L. tries to get its hands on everything that even looks like an artifact.
What Rafaam didn’t know, however, is that a particular group of people he despises so much still examines the desert of Southern Kalimdor:
The League of Explorers is back in Hearthstone! Its four most prominent members Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Sir Finley Mrrglton and - last but not least - Reno Jackson look to defend the ancient titan treasure of Uldum with their lives.
League of Explorers: Rebirth of the Highlanders
And if that wasn’t enough already, they bring back one of the most memorable game effects with them: The Highlander mechanic, also called “singleton” or simply “Raza” after one of the first minions that introduced it to Hearthstone.
The community developed a love-hate relationship with Highlander decks over the course of the last years; however, the actual power level featured by all four explorer legendaries seems to supplement deck-building instead of dictating the “build-around-it”-process of the first Highlander generation.
Besides the way to explore new decks by only using one copy of each card, Saviors of Uldum also unveils a completely new keyword:
brings back a minion from the dead, but only with 1 health remaining.
Inspired by the Egyptian culture as a whole and the rite of mummification in particular, Reborn looks to become a board-centric mechanic that encourages both effective value-trading as well as risky aggro plays by relying on sticky board states.
Looking at Uldum’s lore in World of Warcraft, the Reborn mechanic couldn’t be more flavorful. Resurrection may very well be one of the most important overarching themes in the history of Uldum.
A prime example would be the story of Thunder King Lei Shen who tried to invade Uldum together with the mogu and the Zandalari trolls to take the
Forge of Origination
, a powerful titan device, built to protect the world, powerful enough to provide both life and death. The tol’vir - who were created by the titans themselves to protect the device - decided to partially activate the forge to “only” destroy Uldum and Lei Shen’s army with it.
was resurrected by the Zandalari to rule the Throne of Thunder again during the Mists of Pandaria, and that knowledge about resurrection was used by none less than
in Battle for Azeroth.
And even legendary cards pick up the resurrection theme! A card called Making Mummies, Paladin’s new installation of the Quest mechanic, shows Sir Finley using some sort of artifact to raise mummies from the dead. The community’s outcry was enormous: “A Murloc Paladin that uses necromancy?!”
However, the flavor of the expansion around both resurrection and precious artifacts that provide incredible powers to their finders is literally shown on the card, and the only thing that trumps class fantasy in Hearthstone has always been “expansion flavor”.
Conflict and Strife
But resurrection is not the only big theme that Saviors of Uldum picks up from the original Warcraft storyline.
The ongoing conflict in Uldum was and still is what most players remember when thinking about the Cataclysm zone.
In the timeline of 2010, Uldum was in great danger: After the Shattering, the blockade which protected Uldum for the longest time got destroyed, and
was eager to take the sacred lands by storm. Just south of Uldum, the effects of the Cataclysm also revealed the Skywall, one of the elemental planes, and thus Deathwing had more than enough minions to bolster his ranks in the fight for Uldum. Together with
he convinced part of the local tol’vir to join them in the fight against world order - and that is how the Neferset tribe became the main antagonist in the Uldum storyline.
, however, didn’t want to join the Worldbreaker and his unholy alliance, and together with the adventurers
they manage to defend Uldum and all its artifacts
And this particular conflict between a once titan-forged race, the air elementals and the minions of Deathwing not only set the stage for Saviors of Uldum - it perfectly complements the continuous fight between the League of E.V.I.L. and the League of Explorers.
As a result we see characters like
Dark Pharaoh Tekahn
, King of Neferset, join Rafaam’s ranks as a Warlock Legendary card, which clearly draws a line between good and evil according to given Warcraft lore.
However, we still see fascinating lore details through the affiliation of other cards:
High Priest Amet
, for example, is a Priest Legendary card.
That shouldn’t come as a big surprise on first sight - however, the Priest class as a whole is connected to Madame Lazul, one of the five expansion antagonists that form the League of E.V.I.L.. In World of Warcraft, Amet is part of Ramkahen’s high council, and also their religious leader. His ability to see visions through the sacred water of the Vir’naal river is a guiding pillar in the Ramkahen community.
But how and why did High Priest Amet switch sides?
Another Legendary card from Saviors of Uldum gives an almost blatant hint at that: Corrupt the Waters, Shaman’s new Quest card, shows Hagatha, another League of E.V.I.L antagonist, well, corrupting water. The rewarded Hero Power of that particular Quest card is called Heart of Vir’naal. The same Vir’naal that Amet receives his visions from.
Could it be that the corruption of Uldum’s main river obfuscated Amet’s visions? Maybe the floating-city-spaceship that crashed right into Uldum is not the end of the world, but rather the last hope for Ramkahen!
Warcraft lore has a special place for gullible priests, and Hearthstone lore is no different with that.
Details like the affiliation of High Priest Amet showcase what Saviors of Uldum really wants to be: An homage to one of Warcraft’s coolest storylines. Uldum offers everything a good story needs to have, from an ancient past over mysterious artifacts to an everlasting conflict, and Team 5 took all of these elements into account.
However, they still tried to add the Hearthstone spin to it; not as much as with other expansions, which might soothe a lot of Warcraft lore experts, but still enough for the loyal playerbase to notice.
But even WoW players will find some “oldies but goldies” when trying out Saviors of Uldum: May it be the Warrior Legendary card
, one of the most annoying but still hilarious rare spawns in the history of the game; or the
Puzzle-Box of Yogg-Saron
, one of the most mysterious items in the game that translates into the most crazy card game RNG-fest, which might just be enough to overshadow the fact it really was just printed to *whispers* announce the inevitable return of the Old Gods.
Another beautiful WoW reference is transported by the new Druid quest called Untapped Potential: After not spending your full mana every turn four times in a row, it grants a new Hero Power called Ossirian Tear, and that will give WoW players instant Vanilla flashbacks: Its card art shows Elise wielding Ossirian Crystals, objects that have been part of the final boss fight against
Ossirian the Unscarred
Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj
Did Elise visit Ahn’Qiraj before coming to Uldum to save the day?
said Dave Kosak, Hearthstone's Lead Mission Designer and Wacraft lore connoisseur, in a recent pre-release event stream
, hinting at the fact that we may see Ahn’Qiraj as part of the upcoming singleplayer campaign as well.
Saviors of Uldum doesn’t answer the repeating question if Hearthstone really turned into WoW’s alternate universe, and that is good. When it comes to the style of presenting Warcraft lore, Hearthstone's upcoming expansion sets the bar high, without forgetting to tease the Warcraft community with cards like
Vessina, the sethrak shaman
who was a playable hero in Rise of Shadows, hinting towards the Sethrak become a possible Allied Race.
But first and foremost, this expansion wants to honor one of the most important stories in Warcraft lore. There might be mummy grandmothers and huge octopods in the middle of the desert - but that always has been and still is Hearthstone at its core. In the end it is the close and incomparably honest look at Uldum, a true World of Warcraft fan favorite, that could turn Saviors of Uldum into the greatest Hearthstone expansion of all time for both Hearthstone and WoW players.
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